Oct. 23

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New Senate: DEM 48     Ties 2     GOP 50

New polls: CO GA IA MI NH OR
Dem pickups: GA

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Does the Ground Game Really Matter?

The Washington Post interviewed Prof. Donald P. Green, a turnout expert at Columbia University and asked him if the ground game can save endangered Democrats. He thought that if executed perfectly, it might add two or three points to a candidate's total at best. He thinks that trying to get fence sitters to jump off the fence is very hard. The best use of resources is to find people who support you in principle but think voting is too much trouble and get them to actually vote. Using new technology is probably going to be valuable going forward, but people haven't quite figured out how to harness it yet.

Who Is Being Attacked Most?

Follow the money is a truism in politics. If you want to see which races the parties consider the most crucial, look where they and their allies are spending their money on ads, almost entirely negative attack ads. Here is a table showing the top 10 candidates who have been attacked the most.

Candidate State Amount Party
Thom Tillis North Carolina $26 million Republican
Cory Gardner Colorado $23 million Republican
Joni Ernst Iowa $19 million Republican
Mark Udall Colorado $15 million Democratic
Alison Lundergan Grimes Kentucky $14 million Democratic
Terri Lynn Land Michigan $14 million Republican
Tom Cotton Arkansas $13 million Republican
Kay Hagan North Carolina $13 million Democratic
Bruce Braley Iowa $13 million Democratic
Dan Sullivan Alaska $12 million Republican

The total amount of money expected to be spent on the campaigns is nearly $4 billion, excluding issue ads and get-out-the-vote activities. This is by far the largest amount ever spent on a midterm election.

Koch Brothers Soften Their Ads

In their final push to elect Republicans, the Koch brothers are spending $6.5 million on ads in Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, and North Carolina. However, the ads will not be as harsh as previous ones, which featured ominous off-screen narrators, unflattering black & white photos of the candidate they are attacking, and scary sounds. The new ones will have speakers with the correct regional accent who express disappointment over the Democrats' performance rather than anger. The message is that even if you personally like your senator, it is fine to fire him or her.

DSCC Spending Again in Kentucky

After having dropped out of the Kentucky Senate Race, the DSCC has reversed itself and is now going to spend $650,000 on behalf of Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes. New polling has shown that the race is not hopeless for her so the Democrats are going to give it a shot. The money that had been withdrawn from Kentucky had gone to Georgia, so either there is a new source of funds or they will spend less on Georgia.

Takeaways from the final Scott-Crist Debate in Florida

One of the closest, most expensive, and most important gubernatorial races is in Florida, where Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) is facing former governor Charlie Crist, this time running as a Democrat. The National Journal has some takeaways from the acrimonious debate.

It was a very bitter and personal debate. At one point Scott called Crist a mudslinger and divider. Crist called Scott a liar. The most common answer all night was: "That's not true." A Tampa Bay Times poll found that 60% of the voters found that the phrase "honest and ethical" did not apply to either candidate. Scott wasn't helped by the fact that he is one of the worst public speakers of any statewide official in the country. He frequently stumbled and dodged almost every question he was asked. He especially avoided answering questions about the fact that a health-care company he ran was fined a record-breaking $1.7 billion for Medicare fraud. It is definitely a race to the bottom in Florida, but both of them can't lose. Someone has to win.

Judges Make Rulings with an Eye to Future Attack Ads

While some judges are appointed (for life) others are elected and have to worry about whether their rulings will come back to haunt them in the next election. A new study shows that the more ads that are run against judges, the less likely they are to accept appeals from criminals. If a judge sets a convicted criminal free because his trial was tainted or the evidence used was inadmissible in court, he can expect ads saying "Judge X released notorious criminal Y who committed crime Z."

Political Animosity Exceeds Racial Hostility

A new study from Stanford University shows that Americans are more polarized along political lines than even racial or religious lines. The divide is caused by a vast spate of negative ads depicting the other party as despicable as well as news bubbles in which everyone hears one-side vitriolic propaganda disguised as news.

One experiment asked 1000 people to rate high school students for scholarships. Many of the resumes had clues in them, such as President of the African American Student Association or Chairman of the Young Republicans. While race was a factor, partisanship made a bigger impact on how people viewed the candidates. Other experiments confirmed this finding.

Today's Senate Polls

Today's take: Garnder may have an actual lead in Colorado, Nunn may be ahead in Georgia by a tad, and Iowa is still a tossup.

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
Colorado Mark Udall* 39% Cory Gardner 46%     Oct 18 Oct 21 Suffolk U.
Colorado Mark Udall* 45% Cory Gardner 47%     Oct 13 Oct 20 IPSOS
Georgia Michelle Nunn 46% David Perdue 44%     Oct 17 Oct 20 SurveyUSA
Iowa Bruce Braley 46% Joni Ernst 47%     Oct 18 Oct 21 Monmouth U.
Michigan Gary Peters 45% Terri Land 34%     Oct 17 Oct 19 EPIC MRA
New Hampshire Jeanne Shaheen* 47% Scott Brown 48%     Oct 16 Oct 16 New England College
New Hampshire Jeanne Shaheen* 49% Scott Brown 45%     Oct 20 Oct 21 PPP
Oregon Jeff Merkley* 53% Monica Wehby 32%     Oct 16 Oct 19 SurveyUSA

* Denotes incumbent

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